Calls for French intelligence shake-up

Thousands of soldiers are on duty following last year's attacks Photo: EPA
Thousands of soldiers are on duty following last year's attacks Photo: EPA
Thousands of soldiers are on duty following last year’s attacks Photo: EPA

French intelligence services should be overhauled in the wake of last year’s terror attacks in Paris, a parliamentary commission of inquiry has recommended.

Various services should be merged into a single agency, the commission said.

Commission president Georges Fenech proposed a body similar to the US National Counter-Terrorism Centre.

The January and November attacks, which killed 147 people in all, prompted criticism of the security response.

“Faced with the threat of international terrorism we need to be much more ambitious… in terms of intelligence,” said Mr Fenech.

The conclusions of Mr Fenech on the actions of security forces that night in November make dramatic reading.

When police officers arrived on 13th at the Bataclan nightclub, where more than 100 people were being held by gunmen, the officers asked a local military patrol to give them their weapons, but the military police refused.

Mr Fenech also asked why the commander of a serious crime unit was put in charge of the operation, when the country also had a special operations force available and an elite unit specialising in counter-terrorism and hostage situations.

The commission also criticised the Belgian authorities for being slow to stop the fugitive Salah Abdeslam, who took part in last November’s attacks before fleeing to Belgium. He was eventually arrested in Brussels in March.

Meanwhile the continuing state of emergency imposed after the attacks was only having a “limited impact” on security, the commission found.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers are on duty in France as part of the extra security measures, deployed to protect schools, synagogues, department stores and other sensitive sites.

“I am wondering what real added value they provide in terms of securing the national territory,” said socialist MP Sebastian Pietrasanta.

Last January’s attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the shooting of a policewoman and a siege at a Jewish supermarket killed 17 people.

In November, 130 people died in coordinated gun and bomb attacks on a concert hall, restaurants and the Stade de France, where an international football match was taking place.

Source: BBC

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